Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Another Birthday

 Every Year they roll around and I do my best to ignore them. Birthdays that is.  Even as a child, I remember being more embarrassed by the expectation that other people would treat me special and insecure how to handle it gracefully, when I spent a lot of my time avoiding being the center of attention.  The little girl I was, was teased a lot, and rebuffed for saying hello, or looking too long at the other, more popular kids.  It was hard to believe that people wanted to make my day special, so I always doubted it, thinking that if kids came to my party, then it was because they wanted to play in the park across the street or because their parents made them.

 I pretty much avoided being in the spotlight, and even on my wedding day managed to sneak away and get married with only my parents, grandma and brothers attending at the last minute in an upstairs office above main street.

 So now, the fact that I have friends and family who have loved me so long, and so completely that I can stand up and say, "Today is my Day!  Look at me!  I am loved."  I can put on the funny hat that demands attention and stand in front of a classroom and demand attention for myself. I can walk to a podium and tell you all about myself and why I love the stories and beauty in this world.
 That is because this world is more full of good people than I ever suspected as a child, and now when I celebrate my birthday, I celebrate another year of being ME surrounded by YOU.

 The world is made up of good and bad, but my 51 years convince me that it is always possible to see the good if you look, and always possible to choose to let other people see the good in you.

 and you know, I'm looking forward to the rest of my life, to the stories I still have to tell and to the people I get to share them with.  I'm good at being an audience and listening to your stories too.

Happy Birthday to me, and thanks to all of you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Am Writing Again

 Today being July First means that Camp NaNoWriMo is once again open and letting people explore the thrill of writing fast and intently without too much regard for the finished product.  This is after all, meant to be a quick and dirty rough draft of a novel.
 I'm not there.  I have been working on this novel for quite awhile and have 60,000 words which tell me not to ignore them just because it is camp time. So this year, I am not beginning fresh, and I am editing and writing and loving it.  Such a good feeling to open a manuscript i had closed months ago, and find things I no longer remember writing, and realizing it is better than I hold even though it is a long way from done.
The first draft of Duffy Barkley and my first completed "books", from when I was 10

 Because it is July, and I am not teaching (or unfortunately bringing in any income) I have time to write, and time to play as long as the play is cheap, so I have also been walking at the Redwoods near home. What a great place to look for something to spark my imagination.

 Nothing makes me feel smaller, or yet more a part of something beautiful, than the redwoods

 Also, I managed to capture a rainbow in my living room, if I can do that, surely I can capture the third adventure of Duffy Barkley on paper

Here is a brief sample from where I got to rereading this morning

Oh-oh-ing's eyes gave him sympathy, but no mercy. “Of course it is hard to be you Duffy, it is hard to be anyone. We all have our burdens and the times when the energy to make the effort seems impossible. Then we keep making the effort until we die and our children keep on in our place.”
Oh, thanks a lot!” he muttered sarcastically.
You are welcome.” She answered sincerely. He looked up in time to see her mouth twist into a smile that was part amused, part sympathetic but wholly without unkindness. Then she used both of her hands to push her mane back from the sides of her face and when she dropped her hands to his shoulders again her face was serious.
I don't know what we do next,” Duffy said, with nevertheless, a bit more hope than before he had been reminded that he wasn't alone.
The gathering of Oorah were no longer looking directly at Duffy but had turned away, and now faced the forest. There was a movement in the crowd as it parted left and right and opened a clear path from the back to just in front of Duffy. Oh-oh-ing kept an arm around Duffy's shoulders and murmured low so that only he could hear, “You are not our only unexpected guests at the present time. You remember?”
Duffy's jaw dropped as he stared at the approaching trio. The spectacle their combined presence created would not have looked out of place in the Big Parades back on Earth. A large blue bear, not painted, not a teddy bear costume on a man, not a balloon, but a sky blue, lumbering, four legged predator came down the aisle the parted crowd had created.
He would have been spectacular alone.
He was not alone. Riding on his back was a vividly, orange, wildcat. She stood with her four paws in his fur and balanced gracefully as he swayed from side to side. She was not maned, but her pointed ears were echoed in little pointed feathers of fur at the sides of her mouth and long whiskers twitched there as well.
Walking at the bear's right side was a tall, slender girl who appeared whiter than milk. A spiky tuft of green rose from her forehead above a black, v shaped patch of skin descending from her brow to between her eyes and giving a heart shaped look to her face.
She was wearing a simple wrapped skirt and top of a glittering sequined blue cloth. Duffy had every reason to suspect that the beautiful wrapping was actually soft, supple leather made from fish skin with gleaming scales in place.
At one time Duffy had traveled with and befriended the girl. He had met the bear and wildcat before they helped him get home on his first time in Uhrlin, but the three of them looked so impressive that he froze, uncertain if he should bow or hug them, he did nothing.

The girl stopped and met his eyes and then laughed and twirled in place, skirt flaring wide as her arms swept in a circle that included everyone, “Oh, This is perfect! Duffy is here!” and she bounded toward him and hugged him quickly. As she dropped her arms and turned back to her companions, all Duffy could see was her obsidian black back and the green mane that reached down to between her shoulder blades.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Author Presentation Pays Off Big

 In my last post, I told you that I had been invited to do a presentation as an author to Pine Grove School.  My biggest message that I wanted to get across to these kids was't that they should buy my books, or be impressed with me, or even that they should want to be a writer.  I told them that they should look at me, someone who has dreamed of being a writer since I was their age, and know that if I could make that happen, that they could make their own dreams come true as well.  I admitted that following those dreams might need to be supplemented by something that gives them an income, but that, the thing that makes them most fully them, like writing does for me - should never be abandoned just because it is hard work for little financial gain.

 And after I talked to three groups of students, and ate at their wonderful banquet, I left and went back to work as a substitute teacher at another school.  But unknown to me, the kids were paying me for the message I had given them, and on the last day of school, I found my mailbox stuffed with the reward.
 Here are the Oohrah at the village off Oohline from my novels
 Dear Mrs. Goode, Thank you for teaching us about authoring and writing."

"Thank you for telling us to fallow our dremes"

"I'm writing my own book called, "The Mystery on Ridge Street", I'm on chapter 5, The Mist."

 "I want to be an author too.

""I imagine it was hard making  book with waht evar you named yer book.

"My favorite book was your second book that you made for us to read."
 "Thank you for coming to Spring Arts Day. We learned a lot about writing a book. We would all love to buy your book."

"I think that you taught us a lot of tuff about how to make books. I have one of your books that you made."

"Thank you for telling my class and I about your books. In fact, one of my class mates bought your book."

"It is cool how you made your books and I would really want to read your books."

"I make better illustrations because I listened to you."

 "I think you did a good job on the book you read to us. It's so cool that I can know someone that wires books. It is just amazing how long they take to make."

"I really enjoy your novels, I am going to save up my alowance so I can buy your novels. The idea of a flying tiger is so creative. When I grow up maybe I can make a movie about your book if that's ok with you."

 "Thank you for telling us about your book you made. It also impressed my friend Kaleb. You told about some of it to us. I decided to buy one. I bought number one and two. They are really good so far. I enjoyed it when you were telling us part of it.  I told my little brother about yo and he wants to write books too."

"I would love to read your books and I want to be a singer."

 "Dear Mrs. Goode,
  Thank you for coming to Spring Arts Day.  I allways whonted to be an illustrator and now I know how hard it is to be a illustrator. "

 "Dear Mrs. Goode,

I think your the best substitute teacher in the world.! I mean, we're both writers so I love hearing about your books and reading them! Oh, and I have great news for you!  remember, "Duffy Barkley is not a Dog"?  Well, I'm writing a story with the same Oz/Narnia concept.  It's called "the Adventures of Nina and Lilly 1# Portal in the Mountain side"  It's basically about talking mountain lion named Nina, and her hymn best friendLilly going on all these adventures but something always goes wrong. Happy Book Making!"

and the one last, but not least from a student who made me smile

"Dear Mrs. Goode,

I had a majestic time with you. I've never herd any stories like yours'.  You're Oregon Trail Story is like fiction in descise, (disguise) You have a really good amagination.'

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Author Presentations, Speaking Instead of Writing

As soon as I began following my dream of being a writer, I realized that it had many parts I loved, but also many parts that were scary, and unrewarding, and completely out of synch with my personality.
I am an introvert.  I hate talking on the phone, and being social in a big group may be fun for awhile but it doesn't energize me, it leaves me exhausted.  My favorite activities involve small groups of people, my family or a couple of close friends, and even then, I prefer to linger at the edges, listening and taking pictures and writing in my notebooks instead of diving in to the center of the board games or sledding or other pursuits my favorite people indulge in when together.

enjoying spring and the Rhododendron at home
And I don't just LOVE being alone, I need it more than sleep or food, so that on extremely hectic days I may be exhausted but I'll choose locking myself in the bathroom in a hot bath with only bubbles and a book over dropping in between the sheets.  On my own, I write letters and stories and poetry, I take pictures and play with editing them, I cuddle my cat or my sons dog while I watch NCIS or I put on my old Record albums from the 70's and sing along at the top of my voice while painting or drawing or even mopping the floor and doing laundry.

I traded a copy of my book for Clint Brill's Sci Fi thriller and loved it
But writing in a vacuum is not effective. Without interaction I would never sell a book, or share an idea, or even write convincingly abut how humans relate to each other.  So I have to do more than exchange facebook and twitter posts with other authors and read their books.  I have to get out and talk to the people I think might love my stories as much as I do but I am not comfortable with only marketing my books, I don't want to join all the other voices with nothing to say except, "Buy MY Book NOW.  It is a Must Read!!!!"

So I have begun reading and talking with classes and working on what I want to share with the young people of today.  I want to combat the constant negative news and violence that they are surrounded by, I want to let them know that constant connection to an electronic device is not a substitute for hugging and LOL doesn't hold a candle to really laughing out loud, rolling on the grass and giggling until your belly hurts with a best friend.

I want to tell them that my dream of writing didn't happen until I was willing to put time into it several times a week, and that it may never make a living and allow me to quit my day job, but it is still worth it, because it allows me to be the best me, I can be.  it allows me to have something to share with the world that might make a few other people smile for a moment, and realize that if I can be a writer, they can also ignore the people telling them their dreams are impossible, and realize that yes, you have to be able to support yourself with rent and groceries, but you also have to support your emotional needs with fun and with something that lets you be happy, even while dragging to work every day.

So I went to Pine Grove School, and presented as an author, to kids I know as a substitute teacher, and they were attentive and curious, and most of all they were willing to share that they were dreamers on the verge of being doers too.

And then I came home, visited my beautiful new granddaughter

Celebrated my 30th anniversary

Hugged the toddler who is like a granddaughter to me and looked at my broken down furniture and my ancient Dodge caravan, and laughed out loud.

because my life is full, and my dreams have come true mostly, though not always like I envisioned,

Then I got on facebook and found a post tagging me, from a teacher who had been at my presentation. She said an incredibly well-written article reminded her of the talk I had given.  I read her link, and only wish I had said it so well

part of that post is below

“Listen to your heart when you hold that basketball. Listen to your heart when you take that pencil in your hand and can’t stop writing. Think about what it feels like to sing at the top of your lungs. Think about what it feels like to do something you love to do. But don’t stop there. Share that incredible feeling with someone else. Because if we share OUR remarkable thing, someone else might notice his or her remarkable thing.

So maybe you don’t make it to The Voice. Maybe you don’t make the pros or land a book deal. That doesn’t mean you didn’t succeed. Maybe sharing your journey, your dream, or what excites your heart IS the achievement. Maybe inspiring someone else to see his or her life differently IS the success.”

As I walked out of the school holding my daughter's hand, I decided now, more than ever, we must speak of remarkable things … now, when undivided attention is a rare and priceless commodity … now, when we too often choose glowing screens over shining sunlight … now, when digital notifications take precedence over soul-to-soul connection. Now more than ever, we must speak of the remarkable things that make our heart sing … that fill our eyes with tears … that bring beauty, comfort, and joy to our ordinary, mundane lives. 


Because you never know who might be listening … and using your dream to envision her own.

© Rachel Macy Stafford 2014

Friends of The Hands Free Revolution perhaps you have had a lifelong dream, a passion, or some activity that makes your heart sing. And maybe you’ve never told anyone about it fearing you could never be “successful.” Well, today I hope you will rethink that secrecy, as well as your definition of success. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Last week blogger and writer of great stories for all ages, Rebecca Douglass, tagged me in the "My Writing Process" blog tour. My mission: to answer three questions about my writing process, and to tag three other writers. Life was going a bit insane at that point, actually doing a lot of joy and grief combined.

On April 27th, one of the Grand Dame's of my family died at the age of 91.  Aunt Sally was actually my Grandmother's first cousin and someone who had always been an important part of my life, even though she lived in Illinois while I was growing up in Wyoming, we visited and wrote and stayed in touch.
Sarah Manning

Then on Monday, April 28th I took my students to sea on a tall ship sail on the Lady Washington, a ship used in the Pirates of the Caribbean and in Star Trek. There were 32 students and 11 of them, and some crew members were puking seasick as the boat rolled and heaved and my phone buzzed.  My daughter-in-love texted the words which always stand out in the movies as the beginning of great drama, "My water broke."  So within 24 hours I lost my Grandma figure and became a Grandma!

So I haven't written on here recently and yet I am going to Pine Grove School on Tuesday as a guest author for Fine and Performing arts day, and I welcome the excuse to remember that among all the other title's people call me, Writer is one I struggled to earn for myself.

So Thank You Rebecca, and here is my post

BTW. Check out Rebecca's at 

First the questions:

1.  What am I working on?
Well, honestly working on any writing has been set aside briefly but will resume soon. The Grandma thing is my delighted focus but the stories are still there and insisting on being told.  I have two going now.  Double time: About to Erupt uses the same time twisted writing desk to share glimpses of journals and other objects as was there in my Double Time: On the Oregon Trail but it connects two boys, one living in Pompeii prior to Mt. Vesuvius erupting and one in Portland, Oregon 1901 years later.

The other book I am working on is the third book in the Tales of Uhrlin series about Duffy Barkley and his discovery of the strength's hidden within his own handicapped self. In this third book he has grown from 9 to 13 and has returned to Uhrlin after his sister and Aunt disappeared back in our world.
2.  Why do I write what I do?
I started writing what I do because I had two boys who shared their playtime and active imaginations with me, and when they were tucked in at night my imagination reuse to turn off. And I kept going because it was fun both to write it and to see the wonderful reactions of others as they discover my stories. I thought that I was writing just for me, but when I finished the first book and read it to my boys it amazed me that it sounded like a real book, and now I have people in other lands who have read it and tell me they love it, Like India and England.  I have students who study my books and teachers who share them at book clubs and people asking for sequels and it is just simply fun.  I haven't made much money so I still have to juggle bills and work in the real world - but being a writer just fits me, and I feel more complete than I do when I am not telling stories.

3.  How does my writing process work?
Does it work?  Well sometimes.  I start a novel in a mad rush of getting words on paper like I learned at NANOWRIMO. I do the quick and dirty first draft and if I can't get a new thought then I go back and reread until I find something I can say more about.  I read it over and over as I go and I leapfrog around in everything from the end to the middle to the beginning until all those bits connect and the story is complete.  Then I start rereading and asking others to read it, and I put it aside and start a new novel, or start reminding people to buy the ones that I have out there already.  Marketing is a never ending process because every time I stop, sales stop.

Now for the three writers I want to tag, to post about their own writing processes in the next week or two or so 

So I will get to the other authors now.
A book I really enjoyed is The Dominion Of Light by Nicole Murphy. She has a facebook Author's page at

An Author and wonderful woman whom I admire a lot is Betty Dravis

Check out Pure Control by Clint Brill If you like Science Fiction. I don't think he has a blog up and running yet but he is working on it, and his book is one I read recently with a lot of pleasure